I won’t even bother to discuss the topic of US and EU sanctions against Russia as this is only utter nonsense aimed at appeasing a few lobbies and proving to the general public that western leaders are “tough”. Let’s, however, look at two interesting developments:
1) Obama has declared that the US will not go to war over the Ukraine. As usual, Obama tightly wrapped the key words in a lot of nonsensical political hot air, but he did state the following:
“We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine. What we are going to do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international correlation that sends a clear message“. In other words – there is no military option. Speaking about Putin Obama also said: “His strategic decisions are in no way based on whether he thought that we might go to war over this”. In other words, Putin is not bluffing and he does not fear us“. Good. Somebody (Dempsey?) finally talked some sense into this man.
2) A former US ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987-1991, John Matlock, wrote an editorial for Time magazine in which he shows a surprising amount of basic common sense (illustrating yet again my thesis that the quality of US diplomats today is infinitely worse than what it used to be 20 years ago). I recommend that you read the full editorial – just to get a sense of the man – but I want to quote what I believe is the key section of the editorial:
Though they may be difficult for all relevant parties to accept, the premises of a solution to the Ukrainian mess are clear: 1) The new constitution should provide for a federal structure of government giving at least as many rights to its provinces as American states have; 2) The Russian language must be given equal status with Ukrainian; and 3) There must be guarantees that Ukraine will not become a member of NATO, or any other military alliance that excludes Russia.
Guess what? The man is absolutely correct! For one thing, I firmly believe that Russia would support such a program if only because, contrary to what so many people seem to think, has no desire at all to incorporate the eastern Ukraine into Russia. As I have written in the past, what Russia wants is a a) stable b) prosperous and c) non-hostile independent Ukraine on its eastern border. Of course, what Russia will not permit is the violent imposition of a Banderastan in the Eastern Ukraine. That is simply not going to happen. But an independent Ukraine is not at all a bad thing for Russia, it is, in fact, clearly the solution Russia would prefer. And just to clarify – if the sanctions adopted against Russia are just a load of bull and a PR stunt, that does not mean that Russia wants a new Cold War or that Russia benefits from tensions with the EU and US. Peace, stability and prosperity are what Russia most needs today. So Matlock’s common sense proposals will be met with full support in the Kremlin.
However, there are two very serious obstacles to the realization of this plan now:
1) The USA with its big stupid mouth has cornered itself into a comprehensively non-constructive position and its going to be awfully hard to make a 180 degree turn and actually cut the imperial nonsense and get to work with Russia to stabilize the situation.
2) There is utter and total chaos in most of Banderastan (nationalist controlled ex-Ukraine) and armed gangs of mobsters are terrorizing the local population and racketeering small – and even not so small – businesses. From all the reports I read I get the feeling that there must be something in the range of several tens of thousands of armed thugs loose in Banderastan (some 20% political and 80% mobsters, some 20% mobsters and 20% political). Somebody will have to disarm these thugs, a non-negligible amount of which will have to be killed in the process. Both Russia and NATO could do that (well, Russia would be far better at it, but nevermind), but neither can move in for political reasons. So I simply don’t see who could do that right now. Maybe the leftover Ukrainian military?
Alas, the crazies in the new revolutionary regime are not only not trying to rebuild a police force or a real military, they are creating a “national guard” formed mainly of thugs loyal to the revolutionary regime.
Bottom line – there are signs that some Americans a slowly waking up from their grand imperial hallucinations, but this is very, very late in the game. Had Obama and Matlock made these statements just one month ago, that would have made a huge difference, but today?
And then there was the utterly unprofessional, rude and undiplomatic rant of Samantha Powers at the UNSC. She actually said the following:
Russia is known for its literary greatness and what you just heard from the Russian ambassador showed more imagination than Tolstoy or Chekhov. A thief can steal property but that does not confer the right of ownership on the thief. What Russia has done is wrong as a matter of law, wrong as a matter of history, wrong as a matter of policy and dangerous.
To which the Russian ambassador, Vitalii Churkin, replied:
During the discussions a number of colleagues unfortunately spoke up in an excessive way and I’m especially forced to return to the statement made by the representative of the United States of America. It is simply unacceptable to listen to these insults addressed to our country. If a delegation from the United States of America expects our cooperation in the Security Council on other issues, then Madam Powers must understand this quite clearly. Thank you.
If James Baker was still running the State Department Samantha Power would have been summarily fired from her current position and sent to teach English as a foreign language to Kisangani or Juba. Today, with Obama in the White House – this kind of attitude is simply to be expected.
Still, now that the sabre rattling appears to be in the process of being replaced by some basic form of pragmatism, I want to believe that the article by Matlock by be the first sign of reason coming back to Washington DC. At the very least, it is encouraging to some a member of the US nomenklatura writing a sensible op-ed.